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UNITED STATES V. PORCHE, 53 U. S. 426 (1851)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Porche, 53 U.S. 12 How. 426 426 (1851)

United States v. Porche

53 U.S. (12 How.) 426




The Act of Congress passed on 26 May, 1824, enabling claimants to land in Missouri and Arkansas to try their titles, was revived by the Act of 17 June, 1844, and extended to Louisiana.

By the fifth section of the act of 1824, the claimants were required to present their claims within two years from the passage of the law.

This section being revived by the act of 1844, claimants were required by the latter act to present their claims before 17 June, 1846.

Acts supplementary to that of 1824 were not revived by the act of 1844. Nothing was revived except the original act.

The District Court of Louisiana had no jurisdiction, therefore, over a case where the petition was not presented until 8 March, 1848.

The ninth section of the act of 1824 does not prevent the United States from appealing, where a claim is for less than one thousand acres. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 53 U. S. 427

This was a land case arising under the act of 1824 as revived by the act of 1844.

On 8 March, 1848, Porche filed his petition in the district court claiming a confirmation of an order of survey made by Governor Miro in 1788. It is not necessary to state the title, as the case went off on a question of jurisdiction.

The district Attorney put in a plea that the two years within which, by the act of 1824, petitions were to be presented, had elapsed at the filing of the petition, and that no suit could be brought against the United States after 17 June, 1846.

The court overruled the plea, and the district attorney then answered, repeating his plea of limitations and also denying the allegations of the petition generally.

After sundry proceedings which it is not necessary to state, the district court, on 6 June, 1849, passed a decree confirming the claim.

From this decree the United States appealed to this Court. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 53 U. S. 432

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

It is evident that the district court had no jurisdiction in this case, and the petition ought to have been dismissed.

The Act of June 17, 1844, under which the petition was filed, extended to Louisiana the act of 1824 and revived such parts of it as had expired. Under this provision, the fifth section of the act of 1824 was revived and became a part of the law of 1844. And by this section the time for filing a petition by a claimant under a French or Spanish grant is in express terms limited to two years from the passage of the law. The time limited, therefore, for filing a petition in Louisiana expired on 17 June, 1846, and this petition was not filed until March 8, 1848, long after the time fixed by the law. 8 How. 119 [argument of counsel -- omitted].

The acts of 1826 and 1828, referred to in the argument, can have no bearing on the question. They are not mentioned nor in any manner referred to by the act of 1844. They were special laws enlarging the time given by the act of 1824 to claimants in Missouri and Arkansas to file their petitions. But they are not extended to Louisiana by the act of 1844. Nothing but the act of 1824 is extended. As to the supposed waiver by the district Attorney of his objection as to the time of filing the petition by answering after his plea was overruled, it must be made, we suppose, upon a mistake as to the fact. For in his answer he insists upon the same defense. And he had a right to avail himself of it by way of answer, as well as by plea. But if he had, in express terms, waived it and entered his waiver on the record, it would not have given jurisdiction to the court when the act of Congress had not conferred it.

The objection to the regularity with which the appeal was brought up must also, we presume, have arisen from some oversight in the counsel. The record shows that it has been brought up regularly according to the provisions of the act of Congress. The objection that an appeal will not lie on behalf of the United States where the claim is less than one thousand acres is too clearly untenable to require discussion.

And as the petition was not filed within the time limited by law, it is not necessary to examine into the merits or want of merits of the claim. The decree of the district court must be chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 53 U. S. 433

Reversed and a mandate issued directing the petition to be dismissed.


This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof it is now here ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this Court that the decree of the said district court in this cause be and the same is hereby reversed and annulled, and that this cause be and the same is hereby remanded to the said district court with directions to dismiss the petition of the claimant.

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